Wednesday, August 13, 2014

#RPGaDAY #4: Most Recent RPG Purchase -- What Do You Mean by Most Recent? Espionage vs 5th Edition Player's Handbook

I've been having fun thinking about Dave Chapman's (aka +Autocratik or @autocratik) #RPGaDAY prompts. While I haven't been keeping up with the calendar, and am about nine days behind, the list of 31 ideas for rpg related blog posts have been thought provoking in different ways. One of the most interesting things about the prompts is that there are many ways to approach each one. For example, when I wrote my response to prompt #2 I made some distinctions about what it was to actually be a gamemaster. The distinctions led me to two different answers. A similar thing happened when I thought about today's post on the "Most recent RPG purchase." I began asking myself whether Dave was asking what was the most recent RPG I've purchased  or whether he was asking which RPG I've purchased most recently. These are two different things.

The "most recent RPG I've purchased" isn't a recent RPG at all. For the past month I have been scouring through my gaming collection to find the copy of the Espionage adventure Merchants of Death that belongs in my Espionage boxed set. I've never played Espionage, nor it's follow up Danger International, but I have always been intrigued with how his game shaped the future of the Hero Game system and more importantly the Champions RPG. Though I own - and have played - Top Secret and James Bond and have run sessions of Night's Black Agents (which is awesome and currently available from Pelgrane Press), I haven't run or played an spy thriller using the Hero System. I am a fan of the system overall and have wanted to run a game ever since I read Aaron Allston's Strike Force where he discussed how he had adapted the martial arts rules from Danger International for use in his Champions campaign. He believed that the way martial arts were modeled in DI were superior to the old 3rd edition and earlier Champions system. Clearly the other designers agreed because the 4th edition of Champions uses a modified version of Aaron's adapted system.

So my interest has been high for a long time and Espionage and Danger International have long been a part of my game collection. Recently I've been wanting to play a superhero game with my gaming group and have been confronted by one significant problem. All of my favorite superhero role playing games that have tactical components have a fairly extensive character generation system. DC Heroes, Champions, and Savage Worlds each have qualities I very much like, but since they allow you to build characters based on a concept and my group has little experience with this kind of character generation. In fact, it often leads to analysis paralysis due to an overwhelming number of choices. Yes, 3.x D&D/Pathfinder have a daunting number of choices too, but some of them are spaced out across play and not all the decisions have to be made up front. My thoughts were that if I could run a game of Espionage which utilizes the Hero System, but where the choices are more confined, it would be a nice introduction. Trust me when I say that character generation sessions have broken down by merely asking the question "How strong is your superhero?" Given that some of my players don't own all the games I own...scratch that...none of my players own all of the games I own, we often have to have character creation sessions. Given the build a character nature of Champions/DC/Savage Worlds this can lead to some pretty dull "game time."

Long story short, I wanted to run Espionage for the players and I wanted to use the introductory adventure Merchants of Death. I couldn't find it anywhere, so I had to hunt eBay and various online used RPG stores until I found a copy of Espionage that had the adventure. I am clearly not the only person who has misplaced the adventure as it took quite some time to find a copy. But find one I did, and it arrived today making it my "most recently purchased RPG."

As for the most recent RPG that I have purchased, I will spare you the long context laden backstory. Last Friday I got my copy of the D&D 5th Edition's Player's Handbook at my Friendly Local Game Store. Let me just say that I am a big fan of D&D in all of its editions, but that I am very impressed with this particular edition and look forward to playing it. I am also intrigued how Hasbro has chosen to have D&D be the only brand mentioned on the cover of the Player's Handbook. Wizards of the Coast is mentioned inside the book, and Wizards and Kobold Press are listed on the module, but D&D is the only brand present on the cover of this book. It's a very interesting assertion of brand commitment.

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